Tag Archives: jazz

CD Review – GroovExpress – Jan 2016

GroovExpress-CDcover2014
Artist:   
GroovExpress
Title:
     Ukrainian Doll
Label:     Independent
Year:       2014

Tracks:   10

Web:   http://www.groovexpress.me

Location:  New Zealand


Review

Individually the members of New Zealand’s GroovExpress have a trainload of history.   Collectively the band has been together since 2010 when composer, arranger and producer Mykeljon formed the group.

We were fortunate to discover the band via our Northside Radio colleague, Paul Mac  (Phase Radio Monday’s 4-7pm) and since obtaining this CD, it has remained one of our playlist favourites .

Ukrainian Doll delivers something new with every listen.
Jazz grooves laced with organic soul and fueled with raw funk, the album offers artful hooks that get caught in your memory grooves.

Organ, sax, harmonica, keys, bass and guitar blend with groove-laden drums and percussion providing pleasurable moments and evoking general bonhomie.

First up the title track Ukranian Doll sports a delightful dual tracking of harmonica & sax along with well-placed organ, guitar and sax solos;   Mi Bella Paola lays down everything necessary for a good groove;   I Say Praise eases into the smooth jazz arena claiming attention with wistful harmonica, then a quirky piece No Way Home  is followed by my favourite Foxy Brown which lifts the pace with its bright & breezy melody;  Tell Me Why eases back the tempo, while High Heels strolls the mellow vibe.  Pretty Little Thing has a distinctly blues bent, yet E Type Blues has a decidedly funky feel.   The final and only vocal track, You Are My Fantasy builds from an acoustic guitar solo with Latin inspired percussion into a syncopated groove that would make anyone’s hips move.

Your invitation awaits to take a trip on the GroovExpress!

GroovEspress

Album Personnel (recording)
Mykeljon
– guitar, vocals, composer, arranger and producer
‘Haggis’ Maguiness – diatonic and chromatic harmonicas
Ernest Semu – organ, keys & synths
Isaac Sanchez – drums/percussion
Robert Kyle – tenor sax
Bruce Kerr – bass

GroovExpress-logo copy

 

EVENT Review – Sam McNally Group featuring Lana Rita Sayah Thurs 14 Jan 2016 @ Venue505

 

EVENT:  Sam McNally Group  Support – The Tommy Novak Band
DATE:    Thursday 14 January, 2016
VENUE:  Venue 505, 280 Cleveland St. Surry Hills  NSW
PERFORMERS:   Sam McNally (MD & keys), Phil Scorgie (bass), Dave Plenty (drums),   special guests:  Jason Bruer (sax), Lana Rita Sayah (vox),  Tommy Novak and Elishia Semaan (bv’s)

REVIEW:   Although we only caught the tail end of Tommy Novak’s support set, by all accounts he gave a great performance and the snippets of video I’ve seen attest to those comments.

Sam McNally took to the stage with his usual air of casual flair, opening with Agent of Change which segued skillfully into the Miles Davis penned All Blues.

PhilScorgie-SteveWong

Phil Scorgie

Word was that bassist Phil Scorgie had only just made it to the gig by the skin of his teeth, notwithstanding the Justifiably Erratic Transport of celestial proportions having been the cause of his tardiness, yet the audience remained oblivious to his angst as he delivered a blisteringly skillfull bass solo during All Blues.

DavePlenty-SteveWong

Dave Plenty

Jason Bruer joined Sam, Phil & Dave on stage for Consequences – one of the writer’s favourite pieces – which featured the deft drumming of Dave Plenty who captured the mood completely, followed by Sam’s arrangement of the Bacharach/David song Do You Know The Way to San Hose supplemented with sweet sax solos by Mr Bruer.

JasonBruer-SteveWong

Jason Bruer

 

Sam’s special guest vocalist Lana Rita Sayah put her own languid slant on the John Legend tune Ordinary People, followed by a truly sensational reworking of the seminal Stylus track Colours of Your Love – written by Sam McNally.  Returning for the final song of the set, Jason Bruer was joined by vocalists Elishia Semaan and Tommy Novak completing a very musically satisfying set.

Sam&LanaRitaSayah-SteveWongpic

The second set began with another favourite Serendipity Samba, followed by Melrose & Vermont interspersed with Sam’s interesting and informative comments.  All vocalists returned to the stage for I Get Up and the set was concluded with a slowed-down version of  M Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel.  If the lazy tempo had slowed any further they may have ended up in reverse, but it was certainly an interesting and unexpected version!

The frequent interaction of synergy and smiles between the collective musicians kept the audience engaged as they created an evening of thoroughly rewarding entertainment.  Thanks everyone!

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Phil, Tommy, Sam, Elishia, Lana, Dave, Jason

Photographs:  Stephen Wong – www.stephenwong.com.au

 

CD Review – Dee Dee Lavell – November 2014

Dee Dee Lavell - Sounds Of LoveTitle:       Sounds Of Love
Label:     Gam Girl Records
Year:       2014

Tracks:   11

Web:   http://www.deedeelavell.com
Location: 
Los Angeles USA

Australian born singer, DeeDee Lavell is currently based in Long Beach California.  Following  her 2012 blues infused album Mama Told Me, this new release has taken a whole new direction.

The opening ballad You’re Everywhere written by Australian Liza Ohlback, includes sweet harmonies and gorgeous piano-work by Adam Faulk.

Sounds Of Love features a number of jazz and pop standards plus four self-penned songs. On the track-list are songs by notable artist’s Billie Holiday, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Antonio Carlos Jobim (affectionately known as Tom) and a very cool cover of Prince’s Diamonds & Pearls.

In the company of those stellar songwriters, Lavell holds her own with her mostly Latin flavoured compositions Celebrate, Supernatural (Song for Maliq), Sounds Of Love and Why We Are Here.

Of her self-penned songs, Supernatural (inspired by her son Maliq), is my personal favourite, and of the standards… Stevie Wonder’s Bird of Beauty, showcasing DeeDee’s beautiful contralto vocals to full effect, is the most outstanding.

On first listen I found this album a bit disconcerting as I loved her earlier Mama Told Me CD and felt Lavell had found her niche in the blues, but having re-listened to Sounds Of Love a number of times, it became apparent that this album has all the required elements to stand on its own merit.

The ‘sleeper’ of the album – Why We Are Here – with its syncopated African-influenced rhythms and featuring beautiful instrumentation and vocals, creeps up on you when you least expect it.

All songs were expertly produced by Leonard ‘Doc’ Gibbs and recorded/mixed by Craig White in Philadelphia.

Singer/songwriter DeeDee Lavell can be proud of this “collective of love” which deftly demonstrates her passion, dedication and versatility.

Dee Dee LavellAlbum Personnell:
Piano
Adam Faulk, Aaron Graves
Bass – Nimrod Speaks, Lee Smith
Guitar – Wendell Pops Sewell,
Miguelli (co-writer on Celebrate, Supernatural, Sounds of Love)
Drums – Anwar Marshall, Rocky Bryant
Percussion – Doc Gibbs (co-writer on Why We Are Here),  Trombone – Steve Tirpak
Cello – Ginger Murphy, Violin – Julie Wong, String Bass – Antoine Lopez
BVs & arrangements – DeeDee Lavell, Liza Ohlback, Helen Bruner, Terry Jones

Produced byLeonard “Doc” Gibbs
Recorded & Mixed by:  Craig White – The Lab Philadelphia PA.

CD Review – Machiniso – May 2014

Machiniso-LoS_400px Title:      Lounge-O-Scope
Label:    Independent
Year:      2012
Tracks:  4

Website:  http://www.facebook.com/Machiniso

Location:
Sydney, Australia

..
The husky, sensual and sultry vocals of Anne-Lise (pron. Anne-Leesa) Larsen is the first thing you notice when listening to this 4 track EP, superbly played by the 4 piece rhythmic combo featuring vibes, drums, bass & vocals.
Anne-Lise interprets the songs in a torch-come-vamp style jazz rather than the purist or straight ahead kind, but that’s okay because these tracks are far more accessible for the listening public than the introspective, esoteric jazz variety.

The vibes bring a melodic pizazz to each track, with “Hexotica” conjuring up images of middle eastern belly dancers gyrating to the dance of the seven veils, while “Vampire Jazz” incorporates a theatrical burlesque feel.  “The Weather” (written by Larsen) with it’s incessant drum rhythm tells the story of relationship discontent.

Anne-LiseMy pick, “Miss Lil’Lethal Blues” (remodeled by Larsen) warns potential suitors to beware of this smouldering seductress.  With lyrics that paint a vivid picture… the message is  clear… get too close and you’ll get burned!!

A professional cellist in a previous life,  Anne-Lise isn’t merely an exotic singer, she has oodles of songwriting talent as do the other musicians who all give solid performances
on this not too serious, and sometimes quite quirky CD.

 MachinisoAlbum Personnel
Anne-Lise Larson – vocals
Dave Smith –  vibraphone
Scott Leishman – bass
Rich Machine – drums

 

 

CD Review – Lily Dior – June 2012

LilyDior-coverTitle:        Let’s Talk About It
Label:      Independent
Year:        2012
Tracks:    12
Website:  https://www.lilydior.com
Location:  Sydney, Australia

Having been a fan of Lily’s for many years and knowing her superb talent, I was eagerly anticipating this album.  I’m even more delighted than I’d expected!

Lily had said this set would be more soulful than her previous jazz releases, which it is, but it also encompasses funk, blues, gospel, ballads, and a whole lot more.

The production is superb, the musicianship exceptional, and Lily’s musicality and singing is breathtaking.  Her writing skills, which I’d never thought about before, are outstanding and IMHO she’s up there with Diane Warren!

Although the album was in gestation for a considerable period, the time taken to ‘get it right’ has certainly paid off, and if you’ve never heard Lily before, here’s your chance to be blown away!  Be prepared for the goose bumps!

I love every song on the album, with the standouts being Love’s Like a River (co-written with Ben Fink), and the blues ballad Can’t Stop Me Crying – one of Lily’s finest compositions to date… there’s those goose bumps again!   Also included is a superb cover of Billy Holliday’s Who Needs You.

The late Carolyn Shine wrote Set Me Free and with Lily’s gospel-laden treatment, and Brendan St.Leder’s organ/piano work, this track is just sublime.  (More goose-bump material!)

Lily invited singer/composer Daryl Aberhart to contribute a couple of  songs  and he delivers two fine blues/funk tracks Surely By Now and Don’t Say a Thing (Lily co-wrote the latter).

You may think I’m being dramatic, but I cannot say it any clearer – this is one of the finest albums I’ve heard in recent times!   If you don’t include this on your listening list immediately, you are missing out!  Get a copy for yourself and one for someone who’ll appreciate your exquisite taste!

Lily Dior -colour

Lily Dior

Album Personnell:
Piano/Organ/Wurly/Rhodes – Brendan St.Ledger,
Bass – Alex Hewetson
Drums – Jamie Cameron
Guitar Arne Hanna
Trombone – James Greening
Tenor Sax – Matt Keegan
Trumpet – Nick Garbett
BVs – Tina Harrod, Virna Sanzone, Mitch Anderson,
Ben Fink and Rebekah Jensen.
String arrangements: Sarah McCallum.
Produced by:  Lily Dior
Sound Engineer & Mixing:  Richard Belkner

CD Review – GAPProject – May 2008

Gapproject-AMOCTitle:         A Moment of Clarity
Label:       Independent
Year:         2008
Tracks:     8
Website:
www.thegappproject.com

Location:    Sydney, Australia

In 1995 the GAPProject delivered their first critically acclaimed CD and every release since has continued to deliver high quality funky grooves comparable with any world-class jazz/fusion group.  Choose any of their albums and I guarantee, if you love jazz/fusion, you will not be disappointed.

Their seventh album, A Moment of Clarity features more tasty morsels from the masters of jazz/groove.

Sporting just 8 tracks, many extend way past the obligatory 4 minute mark, taking you on exquisite journeys via the groove laden hooks and riffs that abound throughout every performance.

Keyboardist/composer and head protagonist, Nick Fowler leads a band of exceptional musicians – Ivan Pineda bass, Deva Permana drums and Louis Klaassen tenor sax, with additions including Gordon Sullivan guitar, Kathy Morrison & Robert Campbell trumpet, Paul Weber trombone and Max Dalton alto sax.  With the horn section arranged and led by Klaassen, you know this will be a classy creation!